20 Years Ago in Chapter News

Berkshire Chapter History: How it Began
From the Winter 2003/04 issue of the Berkshire Exchange (the newsletter of the Berkshire - now Western MA - Chapter), we bring you an article on our chapter's origin.
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Berkshire Chapter History: How it Began

The Berkshire Exchange, Winter 2003/04
This very informal history of the Berkshire Chapter has been compiled by going through three full file drawers of records – minutes, correspondence, etc. – dating to the birth of the chapter in 1929. The "Western Massachusetts members" of the Appalachian Mountain Club had their first outing on April 13, 1929. Despite recent sleet and snow, it was a "very successful" hike over Mt. Tom by ten enthusiastic hikers. It was then proposed to form a Western Massachusetts Chapter of the AMC, but so few could not take any action.
A brief notice in an issue of Appalachia from the time describes the birth of the new Chapter, the sixth to be formed (there are now twelve):
The Berkshire Chapter of the Club was organized June 15, 1929, in Springfield, Mass., following an intensive campaign by a volunteer committee to crystallize sentiment that has been favorable toward this move for several years. It was found that, based on the May Register, there are fifty-seven members of the Club living in Western Massachusetts. Some of these members joined the Club through the summer camps, and others through the Club excursions and trips.
However, it remained for the migration of enthusiastic Boston members like Mr. and Mrs. John M. Sherman, formerly of Belmont and late of Chicopee Falls, to bring the necessary energy and initiative. Missing the hikes and parties to which they had been accustomed when living near Boston, Mr. and Mrs. Sherman aroused the interest of the members living in the western section of the State. Several interesting hikes were planned and carried through, and everyone was surprised at the response of the hiking talent uncovered.
A postcard ballot was sent out to the members living in the western section of the State and 41 signatures were secured to the petition to form a Chapter. A temporary executive committee, consisting of Joseph E. Partenheimer, Franklin L. Couch, John M. Sherman, E. Porter Dickinson, Genevieve Bowen, Donald E. Temple, and Edward K. Allen arranged an organization meeting with dinner at the Hotel Kimball, Springfield, to which were invited President Dean Peabody, Jr.; Henry R. Buck, Chairman of the Chapter Committee of the Club; W.H. Beaumont, Chairman of the Worcester Chapter; and others, so about thirty-five persons were present to form the Chapter.
Then-AMC President Dean Peabody, Jr. is fondly known as "the father of the Berkshire Chapter." His prompt and sympathetic action in getting the petition through Council, and his subsequent interest in and support of the Chapter were much appreciated and enjoyed. He attended Berkshire's Annual Meetings until his death, and his widow came as long as she was able.
After discussion as to a suitable name for the "new baby," it was suggested by President Peabody that the name "Berkshire" would be very fitting, and this suggestion was received and adopted with enthusiasm. Mr. Partenheimer, chairman of the nominating committee, presented the list of officers, who were duly elected: Edward K. Allen of Springfield, chairman; John M. Sherman, of Chicopee Falls, secretary; Genevieve Bowen, of Northampton, treasurer; Franklin L. Couch of Dalton, Joseph E. Partenheimer of Springfield, E. Porter Dickinson of Amherst and Augusta M. Sherman of Chicopee Falls executive committee.
The Berkshire Chapter will aim to uphold the best traditions of the Club in the western section of the State.
At the end of six months, the new Chapter had 64 members. It held fourteen outings with a total attendance of 271, an average of twenty. At the first Annual Meeting in May 1930, membership was up to 85 and the young Chapter celebrated its birthday with a cake and one candle. The Mt. Holyoke Summit House was opened especially for this occasion. The usual reports were presented, there being only five committees: Outings, Social, Trails, Transportation, and Noble View. Yes, even before the Chapter bought Noble View, there was a committee, then called the Hut Committee, and it has been going strong ever since.
At that first Annual Meeting, the Chapter voted to change its annual meeting date to the first Saturday in November, which it has been ever since, so there were actually two annual meetings held in 1930. At the second Annual Meeting in November 1930, it was voted decisively to purchase Noble View, which from the beginning has been the main focus of the Chapter's activities.
This is the first part of a continuing series of the Chapter history that was recorded and presented by Edith Libby at the 1985 Annual Meeting.
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